Anti-Harassment Policy of the Labor and Working-Class History Association

Preamble.  The Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA) is a professional organization dedicated to the promotion of labor and working-class history.  It welcomes all who are interested in the history of working people—educators, students, activists, scholars—and, by definition, encourages scholarship by and about those often marginalized by their societies.  Unequal relations of power in workplaces, families, community institutions, and social movements are the focus of our analyses, and we study these inequalities in the fervent hope that the knowledge we create might point the way toward a more just and joyous world for all people.

Fundamental Policy.  Because of LAWCHA’s commitment to social justice, it has an especially powerful obligation to ensure that all participants in its events are equally welcome and supported.  To that end, this policy requires that every participant in LAWCHA’s events treat other participants with utmost respect.  Furthermore, to create an environment in which all participants equally thrive and the exchange of ideas can proceed freely and rigorously, harassment on the basis of group affiliation is strictly prohibited in any exchange or event sponsored by LAWCHA.

Scope.  This policy is in effect at all events sponsored by LAWCHA, including its independent conventions and all committee and business meetings in person or online.  It also governs exchanges on social media, over email, or in person, which are conducted as part of LAWCHA’s work.  At LAWCHA’s independent conventions, all participants are covered by this policy, including members of the organization, vendors, exhibitors, volunteers, and guests.  During those conventions, informal events organized by participants in conjunction with the conference are also covered by this policy.  If, for instance, a panel goes to dinner at a restaurant off-campus or an editor and author go for coffee, harassment at the off-site location will be considered a violation of this policy.

Every other year, LAWCHA conducts business meetings and sponsors panels at the annual convention of the Organization of American Historians (OAH).  The OAH is in the process of developing its own anti-harassment policy, and LAWCHA’s work at the OAH will be governed by the OAH’s policy.      

Prohibited behavior.  Harassment is any behavior that has the effect or intent of creating a hostile or intimidating environment for someone based on the person’s group affiliation. To violate the policy, this behavior must be severe or pervasive enough to affect the ability of a target or witness(es) to participate fully and freely in a LAWCHA-sponsored event.  It includes any behavior that demeans, humiliates, or threatens an individual(s) based on race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, disability, age, immigration status, or other group affiliation.  Harassment includes but is not limited to offensive comments, jokes, materials, or gestures based on group affiliation that have the effect of creating a hostile or intimidating environment for any member of the referenced group.

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual attention (for instance, unwanted touching, repeated requests for dates, excessive attention to appearance); stalking (physical or virtual); offensive comments, jokes, materials, or gestures based on sex; promises of professional benefit in exchange for cooperation with sexual advances; or, threats of reprisal for the refusal to cooperate with sexual advances.  In sum, sexual harassment occurs when behavior of a sexual nature is unwelcome, creates a hostile or intimidating environment, or seeks to coerce compliance with the desires of the harasser.     

This policy does not prohibit occasional compliments of a socially acceptable sort or consensual personal and social relationships that have no discriminatory effect.  It forbids behavior that reasonable, similarly situated persons would regard as not welcome and as personally intimidating, hostile, or offensive.  With regard to consent, we ask that all participants in LAWCHA’s events be mindful of the ways that power structures every interaction.  We ask all to be aware that unequal power relations have the potential to undermine the ability of those with less power to refuse or consent freely to any request.     

The policy does not prohibit passionate disagreement about or critique of ideas.  Indeed, the policy aims to make it possible for all interested parties to participate freely in the robust debates that constitute LAWCHA’s struggle to understand the world and promote social justice.

Procedures.  All participants in LAWCHA’s independent conventions will be required to acknowledge and agree to be governed by this policy as part of the registration process.